Student protesters surrounded the Sri Lankan prime minister’s residence on Sunday, as Galle Face anti-government protests reached their 16th day and the clamor for the president and prime minister to quit grew louder.
Thousands of students from the Inter-University Federation of Students (IUSF) were seen chanting outside the prime minister’s residence in Wijerama Mawatha. Dozens of people protested from the parapet and perimeter walls of the official residence – in images similar to those of a seizure.
The agitators demanded the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa. The slogans ranged from mild teasing to outspoken taunts. Some defaced the compound walls with graffiti saying “Go home, Rajapaksa!”
Despite calls for Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to step down amid the island’s worst economic crisis, the prime minister said he would not step down and rejected calls for an interim government to be formed.
“What good are caretaker governments when people with different policies can’t agree? There must be agreement, which is not possible. If there is a need for a caretaker government, it should only be done under my leadership,” Prime Minister Rajapaksa said in an interview with Neth FM radio station.
Anti-government protesters have demanded the resignation of the prime minister and his brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, holding them responsible for the crisis, which has left thousands of ordinary Sri Lankans scrambling for essentials amid acute fuel shortages , medicines and electricity supply. .
Meanwhile, President Rajapaksa on Saturday called for investments, technology transfers and funding for his sustainability efforts and debt restructuring cooperation to support the country’s economic recovery, PTI reported.
Addressing the 4th Asia-Pacific Water Summit in Kumamoto, Japan, he said the country was still committed to developing and maintaining a progressive environmental agenda. “Several projects aimed at improving water cycle management have also been undertaken,” he said. “These achievements reflect our emphasis on inclusiveness and promoting inclusive growth for all Sri Lankans, which is at the heart of my government’s development efforts.
In the meantime, the International Monetary Fund said on Saturday it had had “fruitful technical discussions” with Sri Lanka over a possible IMF-backed lending program. The IMF said it discussed the need to implement “a credible and coherent strategy” to restore macroeconomic stability and strengthen its social safety net and protect the poor and vulnerable during the crisis, Reuters reported.
“The IMF team welcomed the authorities’ plan to engage in a collaborative dialogue with their creditors,” IMF mission chief in Sri Lanka Masahiro Nozaki said in a statement.
Sri Lanka will appoint advisers to help with debt restructuring in the next 20 days, Finance Minister Ali Sabry has said.
The minister told local media that restructuring the country’s unsustainable external debt is a major condition for obtaining financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Xinhua news agency reports.
Sabry said talks he started with IMF officials in Washington would end on Sunday and many more talks were yet to take place.
In other news, India announced it was extending an additional $500 line of credit to help Sri Lanka import fuel, Finance Minister Ali Sabry said, adding he hoped the country is reportedly considering distributing an additional $1 billion as a line of credit.